Shaping the Conversation

Defining REITs

How we talk about REITs is consistent with how REITs are known and understood in the marketplace.

The two primary REIT categories are REITs and mREITs. Two additional ways investors can buy shares in REITs are PNLRs and Private REITs. The definitions to use in communications referencing these four types of REITs are below.


A REIT, or Real Estate Investment Trust, is a company that owns, operates or finances income-producing real estate. Modeled after mutual funds, REITs give all investors access to the benefits of real estate investment along with the advantages of investing in publicly traded stock.There are 13 sectors: 

  • Data Center
  • Diversified
  • Health Care
  • Industrial
  • Infrastructure
  • Lodging
  • Office
  • Residential
  • Retail
  • Self Storage
  • Speciality
  • Timberlands

Mortgage REITs (mREITs, lower case "m")

mREITs provide financing for income-producing real estate by purchasing or originating mortgages and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and earning income from the interest on these investments. mREITs invest in residential and commercial mortgages, as well as residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS). mREITs typically focus on either the residential or commercial mortgage markets, although some invest in both RMBS and CMBS. 

Public, Non-Listed REITs (PNLRs) 

PNLRs are generally set up as funds and are registered with the SEC but do not trade on national stock exchanges. Liquidity options vary and may take the form of share repurchases programs or secondary marketplace transactions but are generally limited. 

Private REITs  

Private REITs are real estate funds or companies that are exempt from SEC registration and whose shares do not trade on national stock exchanges. Private REITs generally can be sold only to qualified institutional investors.

In communications

  • Use REITs to communicate generally about publicly traded equity REITs
  • Use naming and qualifiers to clarify any time you are not talking about publicly listed, equity REITs
  • Refer to mortgage REITs as mREITs
  • Present non-listed and private REITs as alternative approaches for investing in REITs not listed on stock exchanges